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February 22, 2016

The online victimization and harassment of women

Few women live their lives free of victimization and harassment. This statement is even truer when we look at their lives online. “A study from 2012 found that one in five adults in the U.S. has suffered online harassment — and the majority of victims are women” (TheDianeRehmShow.org). Cyber crimes against women have always been an issue and it is on the rise. Women are being harassed with obscene emails, stalked in chat rooms and on websites, and are being depicted in compromising positions in pornographic videos without consent. Many sex offenders are now finding their victims on social media websites, on job websites, and dating websites, where many people’s personal information is easily accessible by everyone. Some would argue that men are equally as harassed and victimized online as women are. However, one of the major differences is that women are constantly faced with gender-based discrimination, whereas men are not targeted because of their gender identification. A good portion of the men being harassed online are men whom are part of the LGBTQ community who defy sexuality and gender rules. The perpetrators are usually men who aim to assert their dominance, who want to scare and punish women, or who are seeking to silence them and keep them quiet about certain subjects or events.

In many cases of online harassment towards women the perpetrator was someone close, often family or someone romantically and intimately involved with them. These people often create profiles and accounts online impersonating others, sometimes even fictional people, in order to stay unknown to their victim. Online harassment is one of the most important workings of a stalker and often leads to rape and death threats towards women. This is not to say that all cases of rape and death threats originating in the cyber world are committed by people close to the victim, sometimes strangers do it for their own amusement. One of the most evident places we find harassment towards women online is in the web gaming community.  Some people believe women shouldn’t be permitted to play against men in online fighting games because they cannot play at the same level as them. Moreover, comments such as “you play like a girl” and “you’re a pussy,” whether directed towards women or not, are still victimizing and degrading women, making them to be inferior to men.